Sinovac Vaccine: Govt won’t co-fund trial | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 14, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:16 AM, October 14, 2020

Sinovac Vaccine: Govt won’t co-fund trial

Says health minister

The government will not co-fund a late-stage domestic trial of a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech, Health Minister Zahid Maleque told Reuters yesterday.

His comments come weeks after Sinovac asked the government to co-fund the domestic trials, which sources said would cost roughly $7 million.

Sinovac informed the health ministry in a letter, seen by Reuters, that a delay in approvals in Bangladesh had resulted in funding getting reallocated to trials in other countries.

"We are not co-funding the trial. That was not in the agreement. They never asked for money when they approached us," Maleque said.

"As per agreement, they'll bear all expenses of the trial, they'll give us 110,000 free vaccines and they'll share the technology so that our pharmaceutical companies can make the vaccine."

Sinovac, which last month commenced Phase III trials on its "CoronaVac" vaccine in Turkey, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the letter to the government from September, Sinovac also said it had sought funding for the trial from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) - a foundation backed by public funds and private philanthropy - but this had failed to come through.

"We are working on plans to partially rectify the funding situation by the end of October or early November," said the company in the letter, but stressed it would still require co-funding to complete the trial in Bangladesh.

The government's state medical research agency had given a go-ahead to the Phase III trial in July and government approval came a month later.

Maleque said Sinovac was still free to conduct the trial in the country with its own funds.

"They can conduct the trial. But we can't co-fund the trial with a private company. It has to be a government-to-government deal if we go for co-funding," he added.

The minister said the government was in talks with at least five frontrunners for the vaccine, including Astrazeneca.

"We will ensure the best vaccine for our people. We have allocated funds for that and our development partners are also eager to fund us," Maleque said.


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